A former Houston police captain was arrested after allegedly running a man off the road and pulling a gun on him in an attempt to prove a false conspiracy theory of widespread voter fraud in Harris County.

Mark Aguirre was hired as a private investigator by a powerful Republican activist group to investigate unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud when he held an innocent air conditioner repairman at gunpoint in October. He was arrested on Tuesday, according to the Harris County district attorney's office.

Aguirre Was Looking to Find Evidence of Voter Fraud

Aguirre allegedly stalked the air conditioner technician for four days with the help of at least two other unidentified people before the Oct. 19 incident. He later told authorities that he believed the technician was behind a huge voter fraud scheme in the Houston area. He told police that he believed the technician was transporting what he believed to be as many as 750,000 fake ballots in his vehicle.

Mark Aguirre
Mark Aguirre Twitter

"There were no ballots in the truck," according to a Harris County district attorney's office press release. "It was filled with air conditioning parts and tools."

Aguirre ran his black SUV into the back of the technician's truck to get the driver to stop and emerge from the vehicle, according to a court document describing probable cause for the charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He then pointed a handgun at the technician and forced him to the ground, according to the affidavit. One of the other people Aguirre was with allegedly stole the technician's vehicle after searching it; police later found the abandoned truck a few blocks away.

"There were no ballots in the truck," according to a Harris County district attorney's office press release. "It was filled with air conditioning parts and tools."

Aguirre Hired by Group Linked to Steven Hotze

According to prosecutors, Aguirre was paid $266,400 by the group Liberty Center for God and Country, whose CEO is prominent Texas-based Republican activist Steven Hotze.

Hotze was one of several Republicans who unsuccessfully filed lawsuits to have nearly 127,000 Harris County ballots tossed this year. He was also among those who tried, and again failed, to stop Gov. Greg Abbott from extending early voting amid the coronavirus pandemic in a suit for which Aguirre had provided an affidavit, stating that he was involved in an investigation into a "wide-ranging and fraudulent ballot harvesting scheme" in the county.

Jared Woodfill, a spokesperson and attorney for Hotze, confirmed that the Liberty Center had hired a company led by Aguirre to investigate voter fraud ahead of the 2020 election. The company assigned the job to approximately 20 private investigators to find evidence of fraudulent ballots in Harris County and other places in Texas.

"[Hotze] did not direct or lead any of the investigations," Woodfill said, noting that Hotze instead sent tips and information to the team of investigators to decide how to follow up. "The [Liberty Center] employed the investigation team that looked into the allegations."

Who is Steven Hotze?

Steven Hotze
Steven Hotze Twitter

Hotze is not only an active GOP donor but is also one of the most prolific right-wing activists out there. He has publicly opposed same-sex marriages and was a key figure in the unsuccessful push for the 2017 "bathroom bill" in the Texas legislature. This summer, he grabbed headlines after leaving a voicemail for Abbott's chief of staff telling him to shoot and kill George Floyd protesters.